All City Chambers public meetings to be streamed

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BROADCASTS of public meetings at City Chambers are set to be extended to all committee and board hearings under groun-breaking plans to bring the corridors of power into living rooms.

More than 20,000 viewers have tuned in to monthly webcasts of the “full council” debate and the less regular petitions committee since meetings began being streamed online last year.

Jeremy Balfour was caught playing solitaire on a council webcast. Picture: contributed

Jeremy Balfour was caught playing solitaire on a council webcast. Picture: contributed

The £30,000 pilot project is now expected to be rolled out across all public meetings in a move that would see the historic Dean of Guild Court Room kitted out with state-of-the-art digital technology costing up to £81,000.

Webcasts will be broadcast live, but eager constituents can catch-up on all the drama of local government via an iPlayer-style replay service.

Edinburgh was one of the first Scottish councils to introduce online streaming following the popular coverage of proceedings at Holyrood, which boasts around 7000 viewers per month.

Council leader Andrew Burns said the Capital was reacting to the will of the ­people.

He said: “People in Edinburgh told us clearly that they wanted an open and transparent council with greater scrutiny of our decisions. Extending the webcasting service is just one of the ways we hope to achieve this.

“It’s important the public have the opportunity to view and hear council debates and see elected members making the decisions that affect them directly.

“Many of the biggest local issues are discussed at these meetings and giving people direct, online access to the content of these will hopefully increase the public’s engagement with local government.”

Originally proposed by Edinburgh Greens, the council webcast was only previously available at meetings hosted in the main chamber.

Greens leader Councillor Steve Burgess welcomed the expansion plans, which are expected to be voted through on Thursday.

“This definitely helps open up the council.” he said. “Meetings are public but very few residents get to see what goes on so this will further open that up and people can sit in their own homes or workplaces”.

A spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities said: “Whether or not a council chooses to webcam is entirely a matter for them, but anything that can take local government to the people is to be applauded.”